Ellis student remembered for smile, caring attitude

Published 9:50 am Thursday, November 16, 2017

Maya Tarbet was the epitomy of a healthy, happy child.

Then she was gone.

The 13-year-old Ellis Middle School student died over the weekend, just days after she suffered a brain hemorrhage from an undiagnosed condition.

It left her friends and family in shock.

“I loved how she was always smiling and being silly,” said her aunt, Julie Tronsen. “It was so fun for all of us to be a part of her life.”

Maya, an eighth grader, was an academic honor student at Ellis, where she was in the band, earning all-county honors two years in a row, on the clarinet one year and the Timpani the next. She was a member of the Beta Club and on the MathCounts team, and enjoyed drama, and was scheduled to be part of the school’s production of “Elf.”

Extra counselors were at Ellis this week for students who needed help dealing with the loss.

“The staff and students will hold memories of Maya close, as she was an excellent student and a wonderful friend to all those in her school family,” according to a news release from the school system.

“She was popular at school. She had a great sense of humor and was always joking around,” her aunt said. “But she was also very kind. She volunteered often at places like senior centers and occasionally at the Ronald McDonald charity. She was active in her church youth group and was always looking for ways to help others.”

Maya was on the Bermuda Run Swim team, winning several ribbons in the championship meet last summer. She also played tennis.

She leaves behind her parents, Ariane and David, and six younger siblings. Her parents had four adopted children, and Maya one day wanted to adopt as well, and become a heart surgeon, because two of her younger siblings have heart problems that have required multiple surgeries.

About 2 a.m. last Thursday, her brother heard her coughing in her sleep in the room next door. He ran to get their father, and when they got back to her room, she was walking across the floor and collapsed and started having a seizure. It progressed into a coma.

Paramedics performed CPR all the way to Brenner’s Childrens’s Hospital, where she was put on life support in the ICU. Tests revealed she was born with an odd malformation of the blood vessels in the back of her head by the brain stem, that caused a sudden brain hemorrhage. Because she never had any symptoms, CT scans had never been done.

The doctors declared her brain dead on Nov. 11. Her brain was no longer able to control the reast of her body and keep her alive. She was kept on life support for another day while her organs were being donated, saving seven lives. Her parents are encouraging everyone to become an organ donor.

“She loved and cared for her siblings and was a great help to her parents,” her aunt said. “My favorite thing about her was her smile. She’s just so beautiful. She will be dearly missed and we can’t even describe the sadness that the family is experiencing with this sudden, unexpected tragedy. But her parents have xpressed gratitude for all the support they have received from the community,” Tronsen said.

A GoFundMe page was started to help relatives attend her funeral, scheduled for Friday (Details, page 15).